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This page is written by the game's inventor, John McMahon.

Hibernian Chess

Hibernian Chess is a hybrid Chess Game crossed with Brannumh from the Tafl Family; it is also influenced by Alea Evangelii – another Tafl variant. 
 All games from the Tafl branches have a central position which is occupied by the ‘court’ with its inhabitants being under ‘siege’ by a surrounding army of attackers, here this game is modified to play with Chess pieces and have an equal number of armies. This changes the game-play from two lined armies to an army attacking a defending army, making the dynamics attack and defense.  

The numbers of Chess pieces are exactly double that of Chess, instead of having two Kings and Queens on the board at once there is a Sage and Cannon, both these pieces are ‘leapers’. Technically it is the familiar Chess figures appearing in a different tactical game.
The objective of the surrounding attackers is to capture the central king, the objective of the central court is to protect the king and capture the attacker’s king (however because the attacking king is only defended by 7 it may be more fair that game does  not end if he is captured.
Like the Brannumh board it represents the four kingdoms (Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht) of Ireland going to war with the symbolic Central Kingdom (Meath).  In Chess the focus is between two forces facing each other, here the focus of attack is more diagonal in game-play with attackers moving towards the central area.  The board itself can be seen as four smaller boards of 7x7 (49 cells) with 16vs16 pieces, however there are no restricted areas on the board itself inhibiting movement.      

Expanding these game elements and making a hybrid cross-over of this game type makes exactly twice the amount of characters than in a normal chess game, 64 vs 64 making 128 pieces on the board with the board itself being 14x14.


In the four corners of the 14x14 board are eight armies, the King is in (‘commands’) the Top-left corner, the Right-top army is commanded by the Sage, the bottom-left contains the Queens army while the Bottom-right has the Cannoneer.  These four ‘Commanders’ are surrounded by four Pawns, a Knight, Rook and Bishop. 

The Central army reflects this surrounding layout, if the board was split into four 7x7’s each army must be equal, have the same number of opponents when starting, that is 8 vs.8, and must be identical pieces (i.e. White Queen army vs. Black Queens army), this starting position does not restrict movement during game play itself.   

The four central squares have the King, Queen, Cannoneer and Sage in the middle.


Same movements as in modern Western chess. 

Same movements as in modern Western chess. 

Same as promoted Rook ('dragon king', Ryūō)in Shogi. His diagonal directions can be blocked by any piece.  

Same as promoted Bishop ('dragon horse', Ryūma) in Shogi. His orthogonal directions can be blocked by any piece.  

The Cannoneer 
Moves similar to the Western Queen but captures the same way as the Chinese Cannon ('cannon/catapult', Pào) and needs another piece to jump/vault over in order to capture. Known as a 'Vao' in fairy chess. 

The Sage
The Sage moves similar to the cannoneer but is identical to the 'grass-hopper' fairy piece. He can jump over one piece (enemy or friendly) and take the piece directly behind it, the Sage can also land on an empty square behind the piece without capturing, unlike the cannoneer who must capture. 

The Pawn 
The Pawn moves diagonally forwards due to the directional focus being shifted towards the central area.  They capture any piece they go between en passant.


The same rules applly as in Westeran Chess.


The same rules apply as in Western Chess; however it may be fairer if the attacker’s King can be taken and the game-play continues as he is only defended by 7 pieces.

In balance to this, if the Central king loses all his men the game is over and he loses his kingdom. 

Brammunh Symbolism in Game
The 2 Kings commands the lined armies in normal Chess; because the army is split into two with each seven pieces having a ‘commander’, King, or Queen which lead them. The four corners represent the inauguration sites of the Kings where the attacking King, Queen, Sage and Cannoneer are placed, in Brannumh this is where the King would escape, the central area is Meath (Tara) which they are protecting.

In the settling of the manor of Tara (the central kingdom) a divine figure sets the symbolic meanings to the directions (we also have colours) similar to Feng Shui, but applied to the whole country itself.

North, Battle, Black, Ulster – its symbol is the Man/Dragon
East, Prosperity, Purple, Leinster – its symbol is the Eagle
South, Harmony, white, Munster – its symbol is the Lion
West, Knowledge, Yellow/Dun, Connacht – its symbol is the Bull
Centre, Control, Meath – its symbol is the Human-Being

There are lots more symbols but hope this is helpful, i have this game made in real life and really enjoy playing it - i would like feedback or any comments about this game. It is traditional to start directions in the West marked by Libra.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By John McMahon.
Web page created: 2014-09-09. Web page last updated: 2014-09-09